It was an off-season that saw a changing of the guard at the Hawks. With senior players moved on, coach Alastair Clarkson will look to rebuild once again at Hawthorn.
With their season opener against the Bombers upon us, here is a look into how the Hawks will fare in 2021.
Position range: 15-12
The Hawks will not be making any run for the finals in 2021. Finishing 15th last season, they will be thereabouts once again in 2021.
Clarkson seems set on developing the youngsters this season, with draftees such as Connor Downie and Tyler Brockman all impressing over the off-season, they will be given ample chances to play senior football.
Additionally, youngsters Dylan Moore, Jacob Koschitzke, Oliver Hanrahan and Will Day will all be given chances to assert themselves at AFL level this year.
Despite the Hawks having an array of experienced talent on the list, the Hawks will be planning for the long-run, rather than rushing to play finals football.
Best and fairest winner: Tom Phillips
Having moved across from the Magpies last season, Phillips has fitted into his new side seamlessly. He impressed with his work on the track during the preseason and was among the best players in both pre-season hit-outs.
A very reliable run-and-carry midfielder for the Magpies who won plenty of the ball, he showed the same form in a best-on-ground performance against North Melbourne in the pre-season. With 30 disposals, which included 21 kicks and a goal, he is going to be a vital piece for the Hawks this season
Others: Chad Wingard, Jaeger O’Meara and Tom Mitchell.
Most improved: Harry Morrison
Having impressed on debut back in 2017, Morrison has not had much recent success, either due to depth issues or inconsistent form when he got his chances at senior level.
Though he’s been used mostly as a utility player, filling a role where needs be, Morrison looks set to assert himself in the best 22 predominantly playing as an outside midfielder who can also rotate up forward.
Though you cannot read much into preseason form, Morrison has put in a good body of work which suggests he should have a breakout season. This season he will look to prove he is more than a role player.
Others: Dylan Moore, Oliver Hanrahan and Will Day.
Best first-year player: Tyler Brockman
Taken with pick 46 in the draft, the speedy small forward has impressed the club and fans alike. An exciting prospect in the WAFL’s Colts competition last year, Brockman possesses good attacking attributes while averaging five tackles a game, proving he can also put in a shift defensively when need be.
Brockman looks to be the Paul Puopolo replacement, and with great outings in the preseason, Brockman does not look phased by the step-up to senior football.
Others: Connor Downie and Denver Grainger-Barrass.
Leading goalkicker: Luke Breust
With Jack Gunston set to miss a chunk of the early part of the season, it leaves Breust as the only player in the Hawks forward line that is a proven goalkicker.
Others: Jack Gunston and Tim O’Brien
Chopping block: Daniel Howe
Howe had to buy his time in the reserves initially during Hawthorn’s golden era. However, even as the Hawks descended the ladder, Howe is still yet to make his mark in the Hawks midfield due to playing the tagger role, which is occupied currently by Liam Shiels.
Though Shiels is in the back-end of his career and could potentially retire at the end of year, if Howe fails to find another role in which he can fit in the best 22, his time at the Hawks will be almost certainly over.
Others: Connor Nash and James Cousins
Clarkson has a clear direction in 2021. Having been a one-paced team that has been heavily reliant on disposal efficiency, the Hawks have changed tact and decided to play at a faster pace.
Though it’s a style that is exciting, it will leave the side exposed at times defensively, especially against the better sides of the competition. In the first season of the rebuild, it will be a season which the Hawks prioritise developing the youngsters and implement a game plan that will bring success in the long-run.